Psychology Graduate Student Receives National Research Service Award

Samantha Bernecker

Samantha Bernecker, a third-year graduate student in the clinical psychology program, has been selected for a two-year, $54,826 National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the National Institute of Mental Health for her dissertation work titled “Crowdsourcing Mental Health with a Web-Based Peer-Delivered Intervention.”

Her research aims to discover ways to empower interpersonal family relationships to improve an individual’s mental health and to understand how human change processes operate. For her dissertation, she is developing an online program to teach people basic, evidence-based counseling skills that they can use in a peer counseling format to alleviate psychosocial distress.

Bernecker’s proposal was funded on its first submission. She was also awarded a $10,000 Graduate Student Family Research Fellowship by the Center for Research on Families to support the project.

Bernecker with advisor Michael Constantino in the Psychotherapy Research Lab. “Her academic promise is off the charts,” Constantino said. “I simply could not speak more highly of a student at this stage of her graduate career.”

The NRSA, named in honor of the late Ruth L. Kirschstein, is a highly competitive, national fellowship program designed to support the training of health-related scientific investigators in the pre- and post-doctoral phases of their careers. The goal of the program is to prepare talented student scientists to meet the nation’s need for mental health research.